General election matchup set in potentially historic race for new Alabama district, CNN projects


Former US Justice Department official Shomari Figures will win the Democratic primary runoff in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, CNN projects, a seat that was redrawn under a new map that could result in two Black House members from Alabama serving together for the first time in history.

Figures is projected to defeat state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels in the runoff, which was prompted after neither took more than 50% of the vote in a crowded 11-candidate first round last month. The Republican primary was also decided in a runoff Tuesday, with real estate lawyer Caroleene Dobson clinching the nomination over former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker.

Figures will be the favorite against Dobson in November in a seat that cuts across the southern portion of the state and would have backed President Joe Biden by 12 points in 2020. Victory for Figures would likely see him make history with Rep. Terri Sewell, a fellow Black Democrat who is heavily favored to win an eighth term in the neighboring deep-blue seat. Alabama has never had two Black members in its congressional delegation serving at the same time.

The new seat came into existence after a three-judge panel approved a new map last fall that significantly boosted the district’s Black population, creating a pickup opportunity for Democrats with control of the US House on the line in this year’s elections. The fight over the new Alabama map went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which in a surprise ruling affirmed the panel’s opinion that ordered the state to include a second Black-majority district or “something quite close to it.”

A statement by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who chairs a national Democratic redistricting group, called Tuesday’s election “another step toward progress and increased voter turnout as a result of the state’s new, fair map.”

“Alabama voters now stand on the cusp of making history in November, when Black Alabamians could — for the first time — elect two members of Congress who truly reflect their political desires,” Holder said.

Before court action, Alabama – which is 27% Black – had one Black-majority district out of seven seats.

Prior to entering the race, Figures served as deputy chief of staff to US Attorney General Merrick Garland. He also worked in the Obama administration and as a counsel in Congress.

Figures comes from a prominent family in Alabama politics. His late father, Michael Figures, was a state senator and lawyer, who assisted in bringing a successful lawsuit against the United Klans of America and others over the lynching of a Black teenager in 1981 that effectively bankrupted the organization. Shomari Figures’ mother, Vivian Davis Figures, succeeded her husband in the state Senate, where she still serves.

The 2nd District race drew more than $8 million in total ad spending through Monday, including all advertisers during both the initial primary contest and the runoff on both sides

A major factor on the Democratic side has been the presence of a pro-Figures super PAC, Protect Progress, which is funded by cryptocurrency interests and has spent $2.7 million on advertising in the race – the most of any advertiser.

Dobson’s campaign spent about $1.7 million on ads in total through Monday, portraying herself as a “Trump conservative” and going after Brewbaker, her primary opponent, as “just another tax-raising, Trump-hating politician.”

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.

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